Air cargo tonnages drop again

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Photo: Lufthansa Cargo


Worldwide air cargo tonnages dropped again in the first full week of September after recovering somewhat in the previous two weeks, the latest figures from WorldACD Market Data reveal, with no clear signs yet of a post-summer, pre-peak revival.

Looking at week 36 (September 5 – 11) alone, worldwide chargeable weight decreased 5% compared with the previous week. But comparing weeks 35 and 36 with the preceding two weeks (2Wo2W), volumes in the last two weeks combined were broadly stable on a 2Wo2W basis, while average worldwide rates declined 1%, with a slight decrease in capacity.

Across that two-week period, tonnages showed a stabilising trend from most of the main air cargo origin regions, except for flows exNorth America, which showed a strong decrease of 7%. That volume trend exNorth America can also be seen on a lane-by-lane basis, with significant decreases from North America to Europe (8%) and to Asia Pacific (11%).

Read more: Freight forwarders connect Asia to the world

Other notable lane-by-lane changes include a 10% drop in chargeable weight from Europe to Africa and a 5% increase from Europe to North America, on a 2Wo2W basis.

Year-on-Year perspective

Comparing the overall global market with this time last year, chargeable weight in weeks 35 and 36 was down -1% compared with the equivalent period in 2021, despite a capacity increase of 7%. Volumes ex-Asia Pacific are 20% below their strong levels this time last year, with Middle East & South Asia origin tonnages 15% below last year, North America and Africa origin traffic down 5%, and ex-Europe volumes 4% below the equivalent two-week period in 2021.

Capacity from all of the main origin regions, with the exception of Asia Pacific (7%), is now significantly above its levels this time last year, including double-digit percentage rises from Africa (18%), Europe (11%) and North America (10%).

Read more: Air cargo tonnages stabilised

Meanwhile, after remaining above last year’s levels for the first seven months of 2022, worldwide rates are now 4% below their level this time last year at an average of $3.52 per kilo, despite the buoying effects of higher fuel surcharges compared with last year.

It’s worth comparing air cargo’s performance with that of the ocean freight market, where average worldwide spot prices are around half their level this time last year, and that downwards pricing trend is accelerating as congestion and capacity constraints continue to ease.